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Barricades to stay in place for days: gov’t

Barricades to stay in place for days: gov’t

Manned barricades that dotted the city yesterday, strangling traffic along Norodom, Sothearos and other key thoroughfares, will remain in place through tomorrow, the government announced.

The unsigned directive issued yesterday, which emanated from the election security council chaired by Interior Minister Sar Kheng, thanked citizens and authorities for good public order during yesterday’s first parliamentary meeting, and added that roads would continue to be blocked on September 24 and 25.

“Please understand and tolerate … the blocking of some roads around the National Assembly area for security reasons for the first meeting of the fifth mandate,” the directive reads.

Yesterday, many residents and commuters expressed frustration over the razor wire blockades which caused traffic jams and prevented access to central areas around the National Assembly, the prime minister’s house and the Royal Palace.

“I want to return home but that’s impossible. I want to go to work but cannot get there,” said Keo Sophea, 29. “I wonder if they need to block the streets. If so, they should let people know by announcing on the radio or TV. What the government does makes people more furious, it makes us think they are restricting our freedom of movement.”

Many commuters and residents became exasperated when police refused to allow anyone but foreigners through.

“This really disturbs me, I wasted my motorbike gas and I did not get to work on time,” said Chea Sokea, a security guard who waited at a blockade for hours, trying to get to work in the Phnom Penh Center – an office building across from the National Assembly in which the Post’s offices are also located.

One resident along Sothearos begged to be let through to her children.

“Please let me in. If I cannot enter, when do I have lunch? My little children are left with other people,” said a 40-year-old housewife who wished to be unidentified.

Military police officers abdicated responsibility for the roadblocks.

“Please ask police about the road blocks…all we know is that this morning was the National Assembly meeting, so we maintain the situation at all cost,” said Kheng Tito, a national military police spokesman.

Phnom Penh National Police chief Chuon Sovann and National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith could not be reached for comment yesterday.

“I just block it at my boss’s order. I do not know when it is opened,” a police officer told the Post.

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